Lessons in Creating a Productive Dialog with Consumers
- Title: Lessons in Creating a Productive Dialog with Consumers
Author: John Calder
Article Originally Written: July, 2003
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Lessons in Creating a Productive Dialog with Consumers
Copyright � 2003, John Calder
The Ezine Dot Net
*This is an independent examination of the idiotic promotion
practices of some marketers. Pepsi and Coke are not sponsors
or co-sponsors of this examination. Pepsi is a registered
trademark of Pepsi Corporation. Coke is a registered trademark
of Coca Cola Corporation.
IDIOTIC PROMOTIONAL CAMPAIGNS
I received the following email from a direct email marketing
company. This is not the first time I have seen someone use
this technique in his or her direct promotion campaign. At
first, I had deleted the message for being the sp*am that it
was... Then I realized what a good article this would make. So
I dug the message out of my trash folder so that I could share
it with you.
SUBJECT: Soda Taste Test
Today, we're gathering opinions and preferences about
popular soft drinks. Your feedback will help us determine
the people's choice.
DOES PEPSI� TASTE BETTER THAN COKE�?
THE REAL GOAL EXPLAINED
I understand what they are trying to do. They are trying to
generate reader participation within their marketing campaign.
And they are trying to do so within the strategy of using a
question everyone generally has an opinion about.
A good friend of mine has often told me about his first job as
a telemarketing sales representative. It was his words that
prompted me to write my article today.
Eighteen years ago at the age of 19, my friend worked for a
spell as a telemarketer. It was his first gig as a salesperson
and it left a lasting impression with him.
It seems that his boss had read the same book that our direct
email marketer had read. It seems both have asked the exact
same question, although at different times and within different
marketing mediums. Yet, I am sure that the response will be the
A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
In 1984, it took less than a week for my friend to see the
futility in this approach.
The goal of the Pepsi vs. Coca-Cola question is to create an
opportunity for the consumer to interact with the telemarketer
or the direct marketer.
This technique was born in the sales teaching manuals that
suggest that the salesperson should stive to get the customer
to answer three of four questions with a Yes before moving into
the sales pitch.
Of course, the basis of the approach is legitimate in that you
must create a dialog with the customer before you can ever hope
to introduce the product or close a sale.
When dialing a number at random, the telemarketer would have
to introduce himself, "Hello, my name is Bill and I represent"
such-and-such charity. "Let me ask you a question. We are
interested in knowing whether you prefer Pepsi or Coca-Cola?"
Then the telemarketer was to insert a deliberate pause and
await an answer.
Often times, the inserted silence would generate a hang-up.
Other times, it would generate a very hesitant answer. And even
if the question was able to generate the appropriate level of
interest in the conversation, the consumer was often lost when
the next step was to take the consumer into a sales pitch
totally unrelated to the Pepsi vs. Coke equation. The change
in direction was often rightly perceived as a deception on the
part of the telemarketer.
THERE MUST BE A BETTER WAY
My friend knew that there had to be a better way.
He had read all of the same books and had a desire to make
more money while working this commission job. He was properly
motivated to get the most out of what was available to him.
While working the phones, he continued to tweak and refine the
script. The first thing to be dropped from his script was the
Pepsi vs. Coke question. He had learned from the school of hard
knocks that this technique created more problems than it helped
"How are you doing today," was just as effective as the Pepsi
vs. Coke question, and it did not carry with it the baggage of
With some tweaking and trial-and-error, my friend had managed
to increase his closing ratio by 50%.
With his success in hand, he approached the boiler room
managers and shared with them the secret of his success
--- his new script.
THE MANAGERS KNEW THEY HAD FOUND A BETTER WAY
The new script was employed immediately and the sales of the
entire team rose in accordance with the results that my friend
had accomplished. Within days, my friend was offered a position
with the management team. Although my friend turned down the
promotion --- a new town every 90 days did not appeal to him
--- the lessons learned were taken with him into his other
THE DIRECT MARKETER ALSO CARRIES THE DECEPTION BAGGAGE
If you were to anwer the email concerning the Pepsi vs. Coke
question, you would be asked for ALL of your personal
information and told that you were "entitled to these great
deals from our partnering sites. Simply check this box and
you'll get dozens of daily FREE offers; coupons, special
discounts and more sent directly to your email address."
Oh, I see. You did not care what my response was. Instead
you really want me to give you permission to send me daily
advertising from dozens of other online companies! Yeah, right.
A DIFFERENT PLAIN WHITE WRAPPER
During the everyday, I see promotional campaigns like this all
of the time. Over the last year, I saw several companies use
the same technique, but change the question to something that
people felt more strongly about. Instead of asking about a
preference in soft drinks, they instead asked about opinions
about the Iraq War.
All of these companies use this technique to get people to sign
up to receive advertising by email. Who would have thought
answering a question such as this could generate so much email?
It is no wonder that direct email marketers have such a bad
TWO LESSONS IN OUR STORY
A really talented telemarketer is able to talk to people and
quickly create a dialog with the consumer. The utilization of
the Pepsi vs. Coke question seeks to overcome the fact that
most telemarketers are not talented in creating a dialog. No
matter how you phrase the question, a stupid or deceptive
question will never permit the salesperson to overcome the
initial hurdle of creating a promising or productive dialog
with the consumer.
Sales and marketing lessons taken from books are good, when
they are utilized properly. As our examples show, a lesson
that has value can easily be implemented badly. And, a badly
implemented sales technique can actually cause more damage
that having no technique at all.
I hope my examples have shown you not to take sales techniques
out of context. Don't just jump into your sales campaigns with
some half-baked scheme that is based on something you may have
read somewhere. If you are going to expend resources to try to
develop sales or leads, then make sure that you are going to
get the best bang for your bucks.
John Calder is the owner and editor of http://www.TheEzine.Net
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Posted: Wed Jul 23 02:23:04 EDT 2003
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